Monday, April 28, 2014

1966 - Lost & Found: USA vs. South Africa vs. W. Germany Trampoline Competition

Writing about trampoline history is certainly an enjoyable pastime. It becomes even more gratifying when bits of history are discovered that might otherwise have faded completely away.

This is one of those occasions.

It all began with a photograph - - of six athletes standing on an awards podium - - Who, what, why and when did this happen? And, were there any more photos? Thanks to the assistance of Ian McNaughton, Duane F. Bruce, and Leigh Hennessy (daughter of Coach Jeff Hennessy) - - we can share the story and results, with you.

By 1966, the sport of trampoline was growing across the globe. Each country formed trampoline associations who in turn sponsored clinics, local and national competitions and even sent their best athletes to attend world competitions.

This was the year of the 3rd World Trampoline Championships, which were scheduled for April 29-30th in Lafayette, Louisiana. Teams from the United Kingdom, South Africa, West Germany, Canada, and Australia were all slated to attend.
The Australian trampoline team’s travel schedule to the World Championships put them in Los Angeles one week prior to the big event. Aussie bouncers Don Viney, Billy Popiwenk, Kerry Casey and Ian Irvin, President of the Australian Amateur Trampoline Association, met up with Jess Robinson (notably one of the first persons in the US to open a public trampoline jump center), who organized a whirlwind tour of local sites and attractions.

Arriving on Thursday, their day began with a visit to the Los Angeles Athletic Club, then on to Hollywood Blvd., for a stop at C.C. Brown’s (home of the first hot fudge sundae) and Grauman’s Chinese Theater. They then toured Universal Studios and finished up with dinner at Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park.

Friday was spent at Disneyland and Saturday on Muscle Beach. On Sunday, the Australians took off for Louisiana; by way of Greyhound bus - - so they could enjoy seeing even more America along the way!

Meanwhile, the teams from South Africa, West Germany and the USA had been invited to Lafayette for a special trampoline competition to be held two days prior to the World Championships. 

Here are the results from that April 27, 1966, International "triangular" Trampoline Competition:
L-R: 6th-Dieter Schultz (WG), 4th-Spencer Wiggins (SA), 2nd-Jim Youngue (USA),
1st-Wayne Miller (USA),  3rd-David Jacobs (USA), 5th-Ian McNaughton (SA) - 1966
Photo: Coach Jeff Hennessy

Men's Results:
1. Wayne Miller (USA)     47.05 pts.
2. Jim Yongue (USA)        46.35 pts.
3. David Jacobs (USA)      45.96 pts.
4. Spencer Wiggins (SA)   41.65 pts.
5. Ian McNaughton (SA)   41.20 pts.
6. Dieter Schultz (WG)       30.25 pts.

L-R: 6th-Helga Flohl (WG), 4th-Maria Jarosch (WG), 2nd-Nancy Smith (USA), 1st-Judy Wills (USA),
3rd-Judy Ford (USA), 5th-Charlene Paletz (SA) - 1966
Photo: Ian McNaughton
Women's Results:
1. Judy Wills (USA)     43.90 pts.
2. Nancy Smith (USA)  42.70 pts.
3. Judy Ford (USA)       39.95 pts.
4. Maria Jarosch (WG)  37.75 pts.
5. Charlene Paletz (SA) 36.95 pts.
6. Helga Flohl (WG)      31.90 pts.

Interesting anecdotes: 
1. The women's third place finisher, Judy Ford (USA), went on to win the title of Miss America in 1969, choosing to perform on the trampoline for her entry in the talent portion of the pageant's competition.

2. In West Germany, Dieter Schulz was coached by Duane F.Bruce, an American champion trampolinist who originally toured Europe with George Nissen in 1959 . Duane traveled with the West German team to Lafayette which was under the leadership of their head coach, Dr. Heinz Braecklein.

3. Coach Bruce recounted the following memory highlighting the sacrifice made by one of his athletes for the love of his sport: Dieter Schulz came from East Berlin, then a part of the German Democratic Republic after the borders were closed on August 13, 1961. He arrived (in West Berlin) the morning of August 15, 1961, hidden in the back luggage compartment of my (Duane's) VW Bug, in front of the back drive motor. I remember the Vopos (People's Police) inspecting the VW at the border and I had to open Dieter's suitcase on the back seat. On top of his clothes was his gymnastics kit with the emblem of the DDR on the front of his jersey. I told them I had been training with the "Genossen" (Comrades) at the Police Gym earlier that night. They let me through into West Berlin after thinking of me as a DDR benefactor who wanted to live at least part-time in the "Worker's Paradise. Note: Just five years later in 1966, Dieter Schulz went on to become the second best trampolinist in all of West Germany, thus assuring his place as a member of the team that traveled to Louisiana that year.

4. On April 29th, 1966, the 3rd World TrampolineChampioships and 2nd World Tumbling Championships commenced. During warm-ups on the trampoline, Don Viney (Australia) experienced back problems. Dr. Youngue (USA trampoline competitor Jimmy Youngue’s father) examined Don and found a crushed disc from a past injury. The doctor’s strict advice was, “No more bouncing!” and Don unfortunately had to sit out the rest of the Championships. However, young Don's efforts to travel to and try and compete in the Championships didn’t go unrecognized, as during the closing ceremonies he received the Sportsmanship Award.
L-R: Ron Frolich (SA), Ian Irvin (Aus), Kerry Casey (Aus), Billy Popiwenk (Aus), Don Viney (Aus) - 1966
Photo courtesy of Coach Jeff Hennessy.


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